Warrant Officers have been a part of the Navy almost from its inception. Just a little over a month after the Navy’s official establishment date of October 13, 1775, the phrase “warrant officer” appears for the first time in the records of the Continental Congress. And on December 22, 1775, Congress specified that all officers below the rank of 3rd Lieutenant were to be warrant officers. A glance at the original list of positions held by Warrant Officers—Surgeons, Chaplains, Gunners, Carpenters, etc.—reveals that those serving as Warrant Officers were often experts in a technical field, which is more true of Warrant Officers today than ever before.

At the turn of the 19th century, warrant officers began to be commissioned, creating the Chief Warrant Officer rank; they were addressed by the title “Chief” and their rating, such as Chief Boatswain or Chief Gunner. The history of Warrant Officers in the Coast Guard goes back to December 1829; 5 March 1830 marked the date of the first Warrant Officer appointments in the Revenue Cutter Service, precursor to today's Coast Guard.

But the entry-level rank of Warrant Officer, later Warrant Officer 1 (W-1), did not require a commission. This fact, coupled with the fact that the W-1 rank was viewed as merely a short-term stepping stone to the commissioned rank of Chief Warrant Officer 2—not to mention an unintentional disparity in pay in the early 1970s  that forced CPOs to take a pay cut to advance to W-1—led to the rate's disestablishment in 1975 by both the Navy and the Coast Guard. But a shortage of expertise in the CWO Specialty of Cyber Warrant Officer led the Navy to re-establish the rank of Warrant Officer (WO1) in 2018 at a pay grade of W-1 that ensured new Warrant Officers would be appropriately remunerated.  Applicants for Cyber Warrant Officer are required to have reached at least Petty Officer Second Class (E-5), have between six and twelve years time in service, and hold at least one of four NECs (H13A, H14A, H15A, or H16A).

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